On June 8th 2020, we asked everyone in Oxfordshire to pledge to eat a vegetarian or vegan lunch under the taglines #SwitchUpYourLunch and “Eat more veg to bEAT climate change!”
A total of 38 organisations supported the pledge, including some of Oxfordshire’s largest employers including Oxford University, several University colleges, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council. In addition to institutional signups, this year’s campaign was open to individuals who joined in pledging to eat a vegetarian or vegan lunch on June the 8th, or optionally for every day of the week.
The 2019 #SwitchUpYourLunch veg pledge campaign reached thousands of people through meals served by big employers and colleges, and this year’s campaign was intended to get even bigger. It was going to be part of Oxford Green Week – so when the whole of Green Week was cancelled in April due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we had to do some very quick thinking. With all public events cancelled and most institutional kitchens closed, moving the whole campaign online seemed like the most feasible way forward. This posed some challenges, but it also was an opportunity to try new formats such as live online cooking demos. And it meant that a larger audience than ever could be engaged through social media under the hashtag #SwitchUpYourLunch.
The Switch Up Your Lunch pledge champions vegetarian and vegan lunch choices as a way of reducing the climate impact of our diets. For instance, a company of 500 people choosing veggie for just one meal saves the global warming potential equivalent of driving a car 5,059 kilometres! You can find out more about the climate facts on the campaign page, and more resources for eco-friendly eating here.
Our good food tip: Choose to eat meat and dairy less frequently and go for better options – you can find local suppliers of sustainably produced, local, organic and grass-fed meat and dairy on our network page.
The benefits of eating more vegetables are equally clear from a health perspective, with many of us eating far less than the recommended 5-7 portions per day. The Veg Facts 2020 In Brief report highlights that the average adult was eating only 2.6 portions of veg in 2016, and even less among children.
To support people at home with their vegetarian and vegan cooking, we hosted a series of daily online cooking demos during the whole week. The videos created great engagement on social media and showcased the diversity and skill in the Good Food Oxford network, from professional catering kitchens to cooking schools and community cooks in their lockdown home kitchens.
The cooking demo recordings are available on the Good Food Oxford Facebook page and YouTube channel. We are planning to make this a regular feature of our Facebook and YouTube video channels, so if you are a chef and would like to be featured with an online cooking demo or class, get in touch now with your ideas.
For next year’s #SwitchUpYourLunch campaign, we hope to engage many more employers, organisations, schools and individuals to serve a full day of vegetarian & vegan food in their canteens and kitchens, so that everyone in Oxfordshire gets to eat more veg.
The 2020 Switch Up Your Lunch campaign was organised jointly by Oxfordshire Greentech and Good Food Oxford with a broad alliance of partners including Oxfordshire County Council, Low Carbon Hub and Women in Sustainability, with support from the national Veg Cities campaign.